chapter  18
12 Pages

Back to Basic Points and Seeking a Turning Point: The Multidimensional Construction of Adolescent Identity in American Realistic Novels for Young Adults

Chinese adolescent novels began attracting attention in the 1980s, when most of the controversies centered on sensitive topics related to the portrayal of adolescents. The past three decades have witnessed the appearance of a number of important Chinese adolescent novels, particularly realistic ones such as Cao Wenxuan’s Red Tiles and Black Tiles (1997). But China’s adolescent novels are generally dwarfed by their Western counterparts. The power of thought and aesthetic quality in these novels are closely linked to the writers’ view of adolescents; indeed, whether adolescent novels are successful or not depends on how they envision and represent adolescents. In the United States, adolescent novels encompass both realism and fantasy, each having its own merits and market, with the former taking a more clearly mimetic approach to adolescent experience. This chapter examines adolescence in a small selection of key texts about school life in the United States in the hope of identifying some core issues that may enable Chinese writers of adolescent novels to achieve a similar success.